The access to information and knowledge was once described by Kofi A. Annan, the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Prize winner of 2001, as a “great democratizing power [...] for peace and development” . Gaining knowledge, sharing it and applying it develops capabilities and expands opportunities in every aspect of our life.
A fundamental part of science is the creation of knowledge and as researchers we face the task of sharing and distributing it on a daily basis. Science and therefore, creating knowledge, is a team effort and relies on the world-wide accessibility and distribution of information. Global challenges like climate change do not know country boarders; we need to ensure that information is rapidly accessible in all parts of the world to a wide (not only scientific) audience in order to meet these types of challenges.
Publishing scientific findings in an open access format is an important step in the right direction: it allows immediate and global distribution of information and it provides equal opportunities to individuals and research institutions by making knowledge accessible to even remote parts of the world - a key element in promoting global education and research. Despite these evident advantages, publishing open access is still reserved for research institutions possessing significant financial resources. In order to also foster research institutions with fewer financial privileges and provide an inclusive research culture where open access guarantees equal opportunities also among researchers, the publication costs need to be significantly reduced. The underlying principle of publishing open access - making knowledge ubiquitously available - is therefore a vital contribution in meeting the key (scientific) challenges of our century; nevertheless, it is the global participation in knowledge creation and distribution which a crucial part of it.
 United Nations Press Release, SG/SM/6268; 23rd June 1997.